Fred Dibnah Cause of Death: The Life and Legacy of the Eccentric Steeplejack

Fred Dibnah was a steeplejack, a television personality, and an enthusiast of mechanical engineering and industrial history. He was born in Bolton, Lancashire, on 28 April 1938 and died on 6 November 2004, aged 66. He was known for his passion, his humour, and his distinctive voice and appearance. He was also a national treasure and a cult figure, who inspired and entertained millions of people with his television programmes and books. But what was Fred Dibnah’s cause of death and how did he cope with his illness?

Fred Dibnah’s Early Life and Career

Fred Dibnah was fascinated by the sights and sounds of industry and the chimneys and steam engines that powered the textile mills in his hometown. He became a steeplejack, a person who repairs and demolishes tall structures such as chimneys, towers, and bridges, at the age of 21. He was self-taught and used traditional methods and tools, such as ropes, ladders, and fire. He was also skilled in other trades, such as joinery, plumbing, and welding.

Fred Dibnah first came to public attention in 1978, when he was filmed by a BBC news crew while repairing the clock tower of Bolton Town Hall. He impressed the viewers with his courage, his knowledge, and his personality. The BBC then commissioned a documentary about him, called Fred Dibnah, Steeplejack, which was broadcast in 1979 and won a BAFTA award. This was followed by several other documentaries and series, such as Fred Dibnah’s Industrial Age, Fred Dibnah’s Building of Britain, and Fred Dibnah’s Made in Britain, in which he explored the history and heritage of Britain’s engineering and architecture.

Fred Dibnah was also an avid collector and restorer of steam engines and machinery. He owned several steam rollers, traction engines, and lorries, which he kept in his backyard and garage. He also built a replica of a Victorian coal mine and a steam-powered workshop in his garden. He often took his steam vehicles to rallies and events around the country, where he met and befriended many fans and fellow enthusiasts.

Fred Dibnah’s Illness and Death

Fred Dibnah was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2001, after he noticed blood in his urine. He underwent surgery to remove his bladder and prostate, and received chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He continued to work and film his television programmes, despite the pain and the side effects of the treatment. He also married his third wife, Sheila Grundy, in 1998, and had a son, Jack, in 2000.

Fred Dibnah’s condition worsened in 2004, and he was admitted to Bolton Hospice in September. He was still determined to finish his last series, Fred Dibnah’s Made in Britain, in which he travelled around the country on his steam engine, visiting various industrial sites and landmarks. He managed to complete the filming, but he was too ill to do the narration. He died on 6 November 2004, surrounded by his family and friends. His funeral was held on 12 November, and was attended by thousands of people, who lined the streets of Bolton to pay their respects. His coffin was carried on his steam roller, The Betsy, and followed by a procession of his other steam vehicles. He was buried at Tonge Cemetery, near his home.

Fred Dibnah’s Legacy and Influence

Fred Dibnah was a unique and remarkable person, who left a lasting impression on the British culture and society. He was admired and respected for his craftsmanship, his expertise, his charisma, and his authenticity. He was also loved and appreciated for his warmth, his generosity, his humour, and his optimism. He was a proud and patriotic Englishman, who celebrated and preserved the industrial and engineering heritage of his country. He was also a humble and down-to-earth man, who enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, such as a pint of beer, a pie, and a chat.

Fred Dibnah inspired and influenced many people, especially young people, to pursue their interests and passions, and to appreciate the beauty and the value of the past. He also raised awareness and appreciation of the steeplejacking profession, which is now in decline due to modern technology and safety regulations. He was honoured and recognised for his achievements and contributions, and received several awards and accolades, such as the MBE, the honorary doctorate, and the Freedom of Bolton. He also had several statues, plaques, and memorials erected in his honour, such as the Fred Dibnah Heritage Centre, the Fred Dibnah Way, and the Fred Dibnah Memorial Garden.

Fred Dibnah was a legend and a hero, who touched the hearts and minds of millions of people. He was a steeplejack, a television star, and an engineer, but above all, he was a man of character and spirit. He lived his life to the fullest, and faced his death with courage and dignity. He will be remembered and missed by everyone who knew him and watched him. Rest in peace, Fred. You were a true gentleman and a true genius.